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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Akihabara

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Akihabara (Tokyo), Japan - 2015

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 02/04/2015 13:17:50

Akihabara was a "must do" on our Japan itinerary as I've always been a fan of electronics, video games and cartoon characters. Akihabara seemed like the hustling, bright and noisy Tokyo hub that would capture my interest and potentially require a second visit. In the end, I'm glad we went but one full day was certainly more than enough.

Akihabara's nickname of "Electric Town" was born from the black market of electric goods sold post World War II. Purchasing electronic supplies used to be commonplace in Akihabara, but overtime the market's focus shifted to computers. Along with courting the types that would purchase computers, Akihabara shifted again to focus on the "Otaku" or those that lust after anime characters.

Maid To Vomit
An example of the strange dynamic with women in this area - heaps of these maid cafes where a young lady in a French maid will treat you as her master which you pay for in one-hour increments

I was a pretty committed gamer in my youth (and later youth - i.e. until around 25 or so) and video games will always have the power to capture my attention. There was a lot of video game arcades in Akihabara, and a sizeable percentage of the population playing them. The downside to this is that Akihabara is a very small area for the number of people inhabiting it each day, so all of the buildings were multiple floors cramped full with people - and most could not spare the space for an escalator. Trekking up and down stairs in each building being squashed between a bunch of sweaty teenage boys was not the nicest way to indulge my gaming past. Adding to this was that very few people obeyed the designation of a "smoking area" at one end of the floor (not that it would have made much of a difference) and smoke filled most of the arcades we visited. In the end I only ended up playing three games - a very brief ass-whooping handed to me in Tekken 7, sitting at a Japanese story game for 5 minutes (not realising I wouldn't fare well in a text game when I don't speak the language) and a few minutes playing the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game with Pao (which was quite fun).

Let Me Dance
This guy was king of this motion-capture dancing game - I wonder if he ever plays the two-player version for some human interaction

So many people way too old to be playing this children's game where you can dress up your doll character - kind of sad

This cute Disney tsum tsum (or stack stack) game - apparently coming to Western markets soon

Akihabara has a lot of video arcades, but it has many more collectable / toy stores. Some of the products on offer were pretty cool, and I would have loved to buy a bunch of them so they can gather dust on my desk at work, but most of them seemed like an inside joke to see how large the breasts could be before consumers realised. Anime breasts and panties were everywhere, initially trying to remain discrete - Pao and I were openly pointing and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all by the end.

Its A Me
An example of some of the few non-mamoric collectibles - classic Mario stuff

It wasn't all bad, we did schedule some time at a cat cafe - something that I have had a chance to do in Melbourne before. The difference being, in Melbourne there was about 8 cats and 20 or so people - the Tokyo version had these numbers reversed. Cats were everywhere, and loved being patted. Pao and I both fell in love with a giant grey Maine Coon that was sitting near the register looking all regal. I paid $6 or so for some "cat snacks" and had the hungrier of the kitties following me around enjoying the treats. Our 30 minutes expired quickly and we bid farewell to my new feline friends.

In a traditional cat pose - sitting on a warm laptop

Another sizeable long-hair cutie, seen here moments prior to a hand-attack

We visited the Kanda Myojin shrine - it wasn't the most beautiful but it was quiet and had these cool take home stickers which you can affix to your electronic devices for good luck. We also ducked our heads in to a pachinko parlour, which couldn't have been more different. Flashing lights and terribly loud noises assaulted our senses before we had even finished entering the doors. Machines were lined up and filled with people on multiple floors, I'm not sure what the draw was. Sure, it is a form of gambling (the metal balls can be traded for cash - well, can be traded for items which can then be traded for cash next door) but surely this is offset by the cost of hearing aids? After spending 5 minutes at a machine so I could cross off a "to-do" item, we sped out of there.

Pretty low key considering the size of Akihabara, Kanda Myojin shrine is well worth a visit (if only to have a break from the rest of Akihabara)

Pachink No
I have no idea what I'm doing

Towards the end of the day we eventually found a small electronics store in the Radio Kaikan building, which was recently rebuilt. The radio/electronics store is probably more of a nod to the past than an actual merchant for budding radio hobbyists - but I was happy to purchase a random capacitor to respect the way things was.

The last time I tried to construct a radio was when my parents bought me a do-it-yourself kit when I was a kid. It didn't work so I cut off the ear piece to complete my DIY Uncle Arthur costume

This is the 3rd in the Super Fun Chronological Japan Travel Catalogue series
GET 1 - Nikko, Japan - 2015GET 2 - Ueno (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 3 - Akihabara (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 4 - Ginza (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 5 - Asakusa (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 6 - Shinjuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 7 - Harajuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 8 - Shibuya (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 9 - Odaiba (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 10 - Kawaguchiko (Five Lakes), Japan - 2015GET 11 - Yokohama, Japan - 2015GET 12 - Kamakura, Japan - 2015GET 13 - Osaka, Japan - 2015GET 14 - Kobe, Japan - 2015GET 15 - Hiroshima, Japan - 2015GET 16 - Himeji & Nara, Japan - 2015GET 17 - Kyoto, Japan - 2015GET 18 - Iga, Japan - 2015GET 19 - Nagoya, Japan - 2015GET 20 - Takayama & Gero, Japan - 2015GET 21 - Sakura & Bonus Wrap-up, Japan - 2015

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